April 23, 2004
Anonymous team manager: "Those guys know how to beat the system"
AFP quotes a former "prominent American team manager" that riders have to take drugs to stay competitive.
"With so many races, so much pressure to perform, the riders are pressured in taking performance enhancing drugs," the ex-team manager told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The unnamed manager suggested that riders may have a new performance-enhancing substance:
"Growth hormones aren't enough by themselves. EPO is no longer the thing anymore. Something else is coming up. There's something new on the market. It's possible that doctors have come up with a new product."
More than a handful of young riders have died of heart-related problems this year, not a mere coincidence, according to the AFP source.
"The last time we had so many riders die of heart problems was when EPO (erythropoietin) came up. It's more than a coincidence. It's not natural for the heart to fail at such a young age. That's a hint that something is wrong," he said.
AFP's source wants to see cycling adopt a mandatory 2-year doping ban, as in many other sports.
"They should have kicked Richard Virenque out of the sport. What's the message they are sending. You can dope yourself and if you get caught you get six months and race again.
"If you're a big name, nothing happens to you," he added. "That's the problem. The UCI is spineless. It is something very frustrating for the clean riders out there."